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Crime, Safety, and Health in Mexico City

Mexico City can seem somewhat of an intimidating place to expats who have never experienced a bustling city of its size – the capital of Mexico is one of the largest cities worldwide. Below, you can find out more about life in Mexico City, including info on its language and culture.

Mexico’s Drug War

Unlike other Mexican regions, such as Veracruz and Tamaulipas, Mexico City has for a long time had the reputation of being relatively safe from the long drug war affecting the country. Recently, however, Mexico City itself has experienced some violent episodes which seem to be linked to drug cartels. However, the violent episodes are isolated ones, and the chances that you will witness grisly crime scenes are definitely low, especially if you are living in one of the safest boroughs.

Not the Safest City in the World

When it comes to crime and safety, Mexico City has earned quite a poor reputation — and deservedly so, many would argue. The Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) of the US Department of State considers the crime and safety situation in Mexico City “critical”. According to the OSAC’s latest report on the city,  this assessment is derived from the high prevalence of criminal acts such as armed robberies, kidnappings, credit card fraud, and various street crimes, combined with a relatively low rate of convictions.

Luckily, there is no indication that foreigners and expats are preferred targets of criminals, as is the case in some other expat destinations around the world. This does not mean, however, that you will be safer than everyone else in Mexico City. Crime is a city-wide problem, but your choice of neighborhood is obviously one of the biggest factors when it comes to your personal safety. See our article on moving to Mexico City for more detailed information about the city’s safest neighborhoods.

There’s no guarantee that you won’t be witness to some form of criminal activity during your time abroad in Mexico City. You can, however, prepare. We wholeheartedly recommend reading the full OSAC report on Mexico City, which can be found on their website. Taking their safety advice to heart will go a long way for you.

Mexico City's Great Divides

Recent studies by the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) have shown that the gap between the rich and the poor in Mexico is currently at its highest point in the past 30 years. The average income of the richest 10% of households in Mexico is 26 times higher than the average income of the poorest 10% of households. This is also visible in the capital, where poverty and unemployment are predominant, with a poverty rate of up to 76.2%.

When in Mexico City, it can be quite a shock to see the gigantic difference there is between wealthy neighborhoods and the less affluent ones, which are often separated by just a single street. The former are made up of luxurious, big, and modern houses and buildings, while the character of the latter is quite the opposite. 


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

Francois Bertrand

"The last InterNations event was just great: I had some very nice chats with fellow expats (even Canadians like me) in Mexico City. "

Barbara Melington

"With InterNations, we had the chance to find a good bi-lingual school for our children in Mexico. They are gonna grow up as true 'third-culture kids'! "

Global Expat Guide